Do I Have to Credit my Editor?
After three years in the photo editing industry, you can bet I’ve been asked A LOT of questions about this business from both editors AND photographers. Hands down, one of the most frequently asked questions I get is, “Does a photographer have to credit their editor?” This is a really good question, and it’s something that is not discussed very often in the industry. So today, I’m giving you a little insight into industry standard as well as my personal thoughts on the subject.
Private Editing Services
Private photo editors who work with wedding, portrait, newborn, and family photographers should not be getting credit for editing your images. By this, I mean that whenever you post an image (or use it in any capacity) you don’t have to credit them as the editor. Whether or not they edited that specific image from your catalog, it is still yours. Their job is to replicate your exact editing style on your images. Private editors are not creating anything new with your work, nor are they changing the work to something unique and different. Most of the time, they do not get very much input regarding the creative decisions made for your catalogs. Therefore, the images are yours to do what you want with them without having to tag your editor each time you post them.
Of course, if you love your editor, you can refer other photographers to them! Just as your business grows from positive reviews and referrals from your clients, your photo editor’s does, too. They’ll appreciate it more than you know!
Photo Retouching Services
You may be wondering, “What about photo retouching services?” According to industry standard, giving credit to your editor is not required. To a point, I agree with this. If someone hires you to retouch any blemishes or eyesores out of an image, the image doesn’t become something new. For the most part, it stays the same. As an example, just take a look at the before & after images below. This is a retouching project I did for my portfolio class. As you can see, I did a lot of work on this image, but I didn’t change anything that makes it my own. This image still belongs to the photographer who took it, though she was gracious enough to let me use it as a portfolio piece.
*Photographers — if your editor did great work for you, consider letting them use that image in their portfolio. It’s a great way to build a relationship with them and to help them grow their business. Editors — if a photographer allows this, you must give credit to them for the image.
Sometimes I Disagree
The time when I disagree with this is when an editor retouches an image and creates something new. Now, I understand for larger companies who work with corporations, there are a lot of rules regarding use of the images. However, in some situations, it is difficult for me to agree that a photographer should be able to claim the work solely as theirs. For example, when I was in college, I worked with a lot of other students for my portfolio class. Frequently, students took a picture of a single object, and expected me to dress it up. It took a lot of creativity and work for me to do some of these images.
One of my classmates gave me the left image (pictured below) and asked for some basic retouching. It was exactly what I was looking for, and I asked her if I could use the shoe to create a new piece for my portfolio. I had some great ideas I wanted to try, and she was fine to let me use it. That’s when I created the image you see below on the right. For this compilation, I used the cutout of shoe, royalty free stock paint splash images, and I created an entirely new background.
In this instance, I felt that the work I created (right) had been changed enough I should be able to call it my own. I would still give credit to the photographer for the original image, of course. However, because of the industry standard, I was only allowed to use it in my school and online portfolio. I was not allowed to enter it into competitions, whereas the photographer was. Even though I had come up with the idea and transformed the piece, I couldn’t use it. I think this is where the line gets “iffy” when it comes to collaborations like this. If both parties put in the same amount of work, why does only one get to benefit from it? Luckily, the photographer was really wonderful about giving me credit whenever she used that image (even though she didn’t have to).
Simply put: no, you don’t have to give credit to your editor in any instance. However, if you’re collaborating with an editor or you ask an editor to do extensive work on a project, consider crediting them and letting them use that image for their portfolio. Use your judgement depending on the situation. It’s not only a great way to build your relationship with them, but you’re also allowing them to contribute their creativity to the project.